Since joining the Department of Housing and Urban Development two years ago this August, Baker Armstrong Smith has been accused of using government staff and taking official trips for personal reasons on a number of occasions.
In 1981 Smith ordered his former secretary, Ida Elaine Clark, to type and proofread on government time a 42-page master's thesis, according to statements by her and other employes to the HUD inspector general's office. Smith, 35, a lawyer, was taking graduate courses at the Georgetown University Law Center.
Smith also used Clark for other personal tasks, which she said included sending letters to Smith's legal fraternity, paying his bills and weighing and mailing his Christmas gifts, according to a report by the inspector general.
Further, according to records included in the report, Smith arranged official HUD trips to Chicago, Pittsburgh and San Francisco after signing up for bar association and legal fraternity meetings in those cities at the same time.
Smith said he felt he was vindicated by the report, which described the incidents but made no conclusions. "We've been very careful to be 100 percent correct in all our actions and to make sure we had the appearance of correctness," Smith said.
Smith declined to discuss the allegations, but he told aides to HUD's then-Inspector General Charles L. Dempsey that he considered that the paper was related to HUD work and thought the secretaries did his personal typing on their own time.
He also told Dempsey that he did not plan business trips to coincide with his personal meetings. Smith did not charge HUD for expenses directly related to these meetings.
Clark's statements to investigators followed her resignation as Smith's GS-8 secretary after he declared his intention to fire her in a dispute over sick leave. Four other HUD employes, including Smith's deputy at that time, also said Smith used agency secretaries for his personal typing, the inspector general's report said.
Clark told investigators that after she objected to continuing the personal typing Smith agreed to pay her to do it at home but then gave it to another secretary. The other secretary told investigators that Smith paid her for the work, which she said she did in her HUD office during off-duty hours.
Clark added in an interview that she had to put aside most of her daily government work for several weeks and work weekends to finish the paper. A second secretary, Cecelia Herbert, told investigators she helped Clark type the paper.
Clark told investigators that after Smith received out-of-town invitations from the American Bar Association and his legal fraternity, Phi Delta Phi, he asked her to set up courtesy calls to HUD regional offices in those cities.
An advance registration form shows that Smith signed up in December, 1981, for an ABA convention in Chicago on the weekend of Jan. 23 to 24, 1982. On Jan. 21, it was arranged for Smith to fly to Chicago that Saturday and to visit the HUD regional office at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 25. Because the regional administrator and his deputy were not there, Smith met with one lower-level aide for 20 minutes before leaving town.
Clark told investigators that Smith also asked her to schedule a trip to Pittsburgh for the weekend of Oct. 24 to 26, 1981, after he received an invitation for a Phi Delta Phi meeting there. Smith's travel voucher shows that he stayed at Phi Delta Phi and charged the government for one night's lodging.
Before leaving Pittsburgh, Smith stopped at HUD's regional office at 7:30 a.m. Monday, met with one labor relations official and left by 9 a.m., the report said.
Another registration form shows that Smith signed up for an ABA convention in San Francisco on a weekend in August last year before arranging his HUD visit there.
Smith told investigators that the three HUD trips were scheduled before he learned of the conventions, but that Clark did not type the travel orders until later.